Rear Admiral Jake Grafton, aviator-hero of Coonts's Under Siege (1990), etc., now saves the world from potential Armageddon- -and gets to meet Boris Yeltsin and Saddam Hussein in the bargain. The nearly nonstop action begins when an Israeli spy gives Jake's assistant Toad Tarkington a photo that leads Jake and Toad to suspect a CIA cabal at work in numerous evil deeds, including the murder of publishing magnate Nigel Keren (read: Robert Maxwell) by way of ``binary'' poison--poison that, because of the duo's sleuthing, may next be used on them. But despite the threat, Jake and Toad soldier on with their next assignment: to monitor the dismantling of Soviet nuclear missiles. The pair's sojourn in Russia allows Coonts to indulge in his usual soapboxing (``In case you haven't noticed,'' says Jake, ``Russia is a third-world shithole'') even as Jake and Toad meet with beetle-browed generals and try to avoid being poisoned by the CIA cabal. Meanwhile, an anti-Yeltsin KGB faction blows up a Russian nuclear-weapons site, causing a meltdown that may kill a million (```Another million,' Jake Grafton roared savagely. `God in heaven, when will it ever stop?'''). As Russia erupts in panic, Jake learns that the meltdown covered up the theft from the site of several warheads that were then sold to Saddam Hussein. After Jake confers with Yeltsin, the admiral and Toad's pilot-wife take to the skies to bomb the reactor's remaining missiles, shooting down renegade KGB jets in the process. Jake then exposes the CIA cabal and retrieves the stolen warheads through a raid on Iraq--where both the outlaw KGB leader and Saddam himself make a big mistake by getting in Jake's way. Coonts's plots are getting as overcomplicated as Tom Clancy's, but his flying-and-fighting scenes are as exciting as ever. Chalk up another red, white, and blue ace for the author and his jet- jockeys.